A Leader’s Gift of Kindness

On this Christmas Day, let’s consider leadership and the gift of kindness.

As you move up the leadership ranks, expectations about your ability to engage with others increase too. But let’s be honest, we have all worked with people that we simply do not like (and we know people that do not like us).

Self-help books written by some management gurus read like a children’s fairy tale — they always have a happy ending. That is not reality. You will find yourself leading someone who, for any of a thousand reasons, rubs you the wrong way. And regardless, you still need to produce positive results with them.

What if your response as a leader was to treat people you dislike with more kindness? Being kind means acting generously toward others; being good-natured, considerate, patient, and sympathetic. Many well-known leadership traits such as building trust, integrity, and listening skills can be better appreciated through the lens of kindness.

Don’t try to force yourself to like someone

Accept the reality that you don’t like someone. It’s OK. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise. Similarly, if you find that someone is untrustworthy, irresponsible, passive aggressive, mean spirited, or simply sees the world very differently from you, recognize those traits and move forward — don’t pretend that someone who is passive aggressive, isn’t.

Fight the urge to engage in negative, unproductive behaviors

This requires constant diligence! Being kind means that you do not exclude someone from projects or other work and you communicate openly and without defensiveness. Strive to avoid anger, passive aggressive behaviors, and back-channel gossip.

Be kind (and achieve a win-win for you both)

Work your kindness so that it helps both you and the person you do not like. Leverage your kindness to explore what they might contribute — how and where they might be a positive force for moving things forward on your team and in your organization. Make that quest the focal point of your relationship.

Your kindness may also open you up to new possibilities — maybe their ideas aren’t so bad. Maybe they have a point to make more often than you thought. Perhaps they will respond to your kindness and start to bring more positive behaviors to their work. Maybe they’re not so bad after all.

So this Holiday season — and throughout the year — give the gift of kindness to those you lead. From everyone at Arden Coaching, Happy Holidays!

To learn more about improving your leadership skills and getting the most from yourself and your team, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.